Did you know I run a monthly pottery membership called Makers’ Spark? I started it nearly two years ago now, and it’s filled with incredible folks from around the world who are passionate about both the how and the why of making good pots.

The membership is for makers who are looking for more in their creative journey. 

More community. More feedback. More connection. And more (read: longer) access to workshops. 

I may be a bit biased, but I really do have the best students.

Here’s a look into Makers' Spark member Amy Kastelin's creative journey.

Featured Member: Amy Kastelin (she/her)

What's your name, where are you from & where can your studio and work be found?
Hello, I am Amy Kastelin, She/Her. I live in Seattle Washington, in the Ballard neighborhood. My studio is in my house and right now it is about 10x10 space. You can find me on Instagram under my name. 

Where did you discover clay? How long have you been working with the medium?
I took a few clay classes in college which was a LONG time ago. It was super sexist too. The teacher only let guys work on the wheel or women he was interested in. That was in 1990!

Later, when my daughter was a baby, I signed up for a class at a local community clay studio called Lily and the People. I took lessons there for a few years before renting a wheel from Seattle Pottery Supply and setting up in my living room with a big tarp on the floor. That was in 1999. I eventually got my tiny dedicated space in 2008 and have been in there since, along with taking some courses at Pottery Northwest. My goal for 2024 is to take over a little more space in our home and maybe have some room to teach a few classes.

Ceramic artist studio

We’re all here because we’ve got the clay bug! Is there a part of the making process you find most satisfying?
I think for me the process of adding detailed texture to clay and then wiping back underglaze to reveal that texture is my favorite part. I know that I am not alone in finding glazing less than satisfying at times. I prefer clay when it is leather hard.

What inspires your artwork? Is there an artist or movement you look to?
My work is pretty uncomplicated. Honestly, I come from a family of makers in the upper midwest of the US and they make pretty crafty/kitschy things. I know that some of that has been instilled in me and I try to honor it without fully leaning into it. I find it is an ongoing internal battle I have with myself. My parent’s business is “Kastelin’s Country Memories”!

Some of the ceramic work I really admire by Dawn Candy, Christy Knox, Naomi of course, Carole Epp, Jeremy Randall, Jason Bige Burnett and Sarah Pike. I mean, there are many more, but those come to mind. I got obsessed with texture and then migrated over to hand-building. I have been inspired by some of the processes each of those artists employs. I look mostly to the natural world for my themes: birds, native flowers, landscapes and architecture.

Tell us about a recent accomplishment in your clay journey.
Oh gosh, learning how to hand-build bowls is one that I am excited about. That was what led me to Naomi’s classes! I am still working on it, but that was a form that I was feeling unsatisfied with as a hand builder. What I am also excited about is finding a clay body that seems to be working better for my process! I had to do things the hard way and I worked with porcelain for years. I was having a lot of success but enough failures that I was getting frustrated. Lo and behold I tried a smooth white stoneware and many of my troubles have disappeared and I am getting kiln loads of pots that I feel proud of.

Hand-built bowl

You’re stranded on an island making pots and only have one tool! Which tool do you choose & why?
I mean, besides my hands? I guess it’s my Dolan knife. I have wanted to get another one and they seem to be sold out all the time. I worry that I will lose mine!

Tell us about a favorite piece in your collection. Why do you love it, what makes it a staple?!
I have this cup that Drew Niklas made while he was a resident at Pottery Northwest. It is soda fired and is just this kind of sturdy but elegant cup with a big foot that I can grab by the bottom when I put it in the dishwasher. It has been in my house for at least ten years and it stands the test of time. I love having some hard cider or wine in it.

How has the Markers’ Spark Membership helped you grow as an artist?
Oh gosh, so many ways! There are so many clay folks in Seattle and I could be going to many different studios, but I really hate traffic and don’t enjoy driving across town. I have very much enjoyed learning by watching videos and I find having an online community very beneficial. I would otherwise be an introvert, locked away in my studio just doing my thing. Makers Spark gives me connection and I love getting to learn from a wide variety of people! It is especially useful as a hand builder to really dive into the kind of work I want to be making. Like I said before, Naomi’s class on bowls has been a favorite of mine and of course having Jen Allen do workshops has been brilliant. I need to push myself and get busy with more lidded vessels. I tend to get lazy and want to make the things that are easier to make and consistently sell (mugs, mugs, mugs) but I am getting burned out on those and so happy to have some challenges to get back to now that my busy season is wrapped up.

Where can we find your work?
I am on instagram and on Etsy under my name. I am still debating whether to have a website. I don’t sell high volume so not sure it makes sense and I have another job which makes it hard to have time to work on a following and make content. Sigh. I know you all hear me.

Tell us one thing not clay-related that you’re totally into?
I am a choir nerd! I sing in an LGBTQ aligned chorus in Seattle called Puget Soundworks. I am a soprano. I identify as the “B” in that alphabet soup and I have a transgender daughter so this is where I do my activist work. Our choir is about promoting kindness in the world. Fun fact: My daughter Freyja Whitney is an incredible artist and she does our concert poster graphic design!


What to learn more about Makers' Spark? It's a rad community of ceramic artists from around the world who are interested in both the how and the why of making beautiful pots. It inspires you to reach new heights with your pottery, by learning new techniques and exploring new ways to express your unique voice. Pretty neat eh?

April 18, 2024 — Naomi Clement